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1. Introduction

It is well-known that Fcrgus Millars 1980s articles havc sparked ongoing debate over the political nature of the Roman Republic. The Millar-inspired democratic school of historians argue that, as Polybius claimed, the people wielded significant power.2 They have attempted to substantiate their position i n relation to elections, legislation, violence and oratory. Of course, this brand of revisionism was directed at thc frozen waste theory of Roman politics, especially the prosopographically-based studies of family

A vcrsion of this paper was delivered at the Classics and Ancient History Research Seminar at the University of Manchcster in November 2007. I would like to thank those present for criticisms and suggestions, but especially Tim Corncll, Steve Rigby, Mary Beagon, Claire Holleran and Sam Koon for their help and advice. All responsibility for errors of fact and argument is my own.
I See F. Millar, The political character of the classical Roman Republic, JRS 74 (1984) 1-19; Politics, persuasion and the people before the Social War (150-90 B.C.), JRS 76 (1986) 1-11; Political power in midRepublican Rome: curia or comitium?, JRS 79 (1989) 138-50; Popular politics at Rome in the late Republic, in Leuders and masses in the Roman world: studies in honor of Zvi Yuvetz, ed. I. Malkin & 2. W. Rubinsohn (Leiden 1995) 91-1 13 (these articles are now collected in F. Millar, Rome, the Greek World, and the East, vol. I : The Roman Republic and the Augustun Revolution, ed. H. M. Cotton & G. M. Rogers [Chapel Hill, NC 20021); The Roman Libertus and civic freedom, Arethusu 28 (1995) 99-105; The crowd at Rome in the lure Republic (Ann Arbor, MI 1998); The Roman Republic in politicul thought (Hanover, NE 2002). The prior influence of Peter Brunts work cannot be underestimated: see Social conflicts in the Roman Republic (Oxford 1971); cf. the essays collected in The full of the Roman Republic (Oxford 1988). M. 1. Finley, Politics in /he ancient world (Cambiidge 1983) anticipated many of the developments that have occurred in Roman political history, yet remains bafflingly overlooked.

Pol. 6.1 1-18. E.g. J. Paterson, Politics in the late Republic, in T. P. Wiseman, Roman political life, 90 B.C.-A.D.69 (Exeter 1985) 2 1-43; P. J . 1. Vanderbroeck, Popular leademhip and collective behaviour in the lute Roman Republic (cu. 80-50 B.C.) (Amsterdam 1987); A. Yakobson, Petitio et lurgitio: popular participation in the centuriate assembly of the late Republic, JRS 82 (1992) 32-52; Secret ballot and its effects in the late Roman Republic, Hermes 123 (1995) 426-42; Elections and electioneering in Rome: a study in the politicul system of the late Republic (Stuttgart 1999); The peoples voice and the speakers platform: popular power, persuasion and manipulation in the Roman Forum, SCI 23 (2004) 201-12; Popular power in the Roman Republic, in A companion to rhe Romari Republic, ed. R. Morstein-Marx & N. Rosenstein (Oxford 2006) 383-400; R. MorsteinMarx, Publicity, popularity and patronage in the Conzmentariolurn Petitionis, ClAnt 17 (1998) 259-88; Res Publica Res Populi, SCI 19 (2000) 224-33; T. P. Wiscman, Democracy allu romunu, JRA 12 (2000) 537-40; Roman history and the ideological vacuum, i n Classics in progress: essays on ancienr Greece und Rome, ed. T. P. Wiseman (Oxford 2002) 285-310.

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alliances and long-standing f a ~ t i o n e sAs . ~ one might expect, in arguing against what was an extreme vicw of Republican politics, thc democrats took thcir own casc rathcr too far.s The incvilable backlash, and, in particular, Mouritscns dcinonstration of the practical limitations on political activity, has exposed the weaknesses of the Roman democi-acy thesis. Several reccnt studies now highlight the ritual nature of political participation at Rome, with assemblies being platforins for the dissemination of aristocratic hegemonic idcology, and for the demonstration of carcfully managed consent. The criticisms of Millars vision of the Roman Republic arc well-founded. Rome was never anything like a democracy, whcthcr that is dcfincd i n relation to representation, accountability, or mass participation. Yet Mouritsens view that political activity was largely confined to the propertied classcs, or Morstein-Marxs sophisticated picture of an elite and mass irnprisoned in a discourse that legitimized the powcr of the former, struggle to account for the ideologically-charged and often violent political conflicts of thc latc Republic. Aware of the potential problems for his thcsis, Mouritsen suggcsts that fi-om around 133 BC, at the prompting of ambitious individual politicians, members 01 thc lower classes Lwercl now turning up for assemblies thcy had not previously attcndcd. Givcn the very rcal praciical and ideological limits on popular participation at Roinc that he and others have dcmonstrated, thc qucstion of how and why such mobilization was gcncrated is espccially important. In other words, Mouritsens highlighting of thc practical aspects of Roman polilics should provide the impetus to furthcr investigation along lhcsc

The terni frozen waste theory was coined by John North in his excellent article Democratic politics in Republican Rome, in Studies in ancient Greek nnd Rorwri society, ed. It. Osborne (Cambiidge 2004) 140-58, originally published i n /&I 126 (1990) 3-21.

Millar, The crowd (n. I , above) 210, claims that the Roman Republic hus to be characterized as a deinoci-acy (my emphasis).


Mouritsen, Pleb.s o t d politics in

the lute Ronuin

Republic (Cambridge 2001); cf., among others,

I , . Rurckhardt, The political elitc of the Roinan Republic: comments on recent discussion of thc concepts Nobilirus and Honza NOVUS, Historia 39 (1990) 77-99; E. Gabba, Deinocrazia a Roma, Athetzaeuni 85 ( I 997)

266-71; K.-J. Holkeskainp, The Roman Republic: government of the peoplc, by the pcoplc, for the people?, SCI 19 (2000) 203-23. rhis political culture approach has been very prominent among German scholars. See especially M. Jehnc (ed.), Demokrutie in R o n ? Die Rolle des Volkes in der Politik der rijrnischeti liepublik (Stuttgart 1995). For work by these historians in English see M. Jehne, Methods, models, and historiography, trans. R. MorsteinMarx Sr B. Wolkow, in Morstein-Marx 62 Itosenstcin, Conzpanion (n. I , above) 3-28; K.-J. I-lolkeskainp, Conquest, competition and conscnsus: Roman expansion in Italy and thc risc of the nobilitas, Ilisrnrio 42 ( 1993) 12-39; The Roman Republic (n. 6, above). English-speaking historians have also adopted this approach, e.g. A . J . Bell, Cicero and the spectacle of power, .IRS 87 (1997) 1-22; R. Morstein-Mwx, MNXT orurory arid /mlitical power iji the lure Ronzutz Republic (Cambridge 2004), softening his earlier dcinocratic vicws; id. & N. Kosenstein, The transformation of the Republic, i n Montein-Mnrx 6 ( Rosensiein, Cotttputaioti (n. I , above) 625-37: G. S. Surni, Cerenutny a r i d power: /~erJorniitzg politics it1 Rome between Repubiic rind I3zpire (Ann Arbor MI, 2005).

Recent defences of the

tleiriocracy thesis, c.g. Millar, Republic in Ioliticd Thought (n. I , above). and Yakobson, Popular power (n. 3, above), seek to prove their case by highlighting thc undemocratic aspects o l inodcrn democratic states.

Mouritsen, Plebs and politics (n. 6, above) 79



lines, rather than foreclosing debate, and pushing subsequent study towards analysis of the mcrcly ritualistic function of political activity.

2.Cutiline m d Clodius
The political history of the 60s and 50s BC, and in particular the activities of L. Sergius Catilina and P. Clodius Pulcher, are highly relevant to this question. The former, from an undistinguished patrician family, attempted to take control of the res public0 by combining revolts in several areas of Italy with an uprising in the city, but he was foiled by the consul Cicero. Clodius, of the patrician Claudii, transferred to the plebeian order to become tribune of the plebs, before embarking on a scrics of populuris reforms, and maintaining a well-organized following among the plebs until his murder in 52.12 It is indisputable that Clodius was able to mobilize a significant following i n the city of Rome for several years, or that he was, in some ways, the archetypal poputaris politi~ian.~ The qucstion of Catilines urban following is far more problematic. There are indications that he advertised his own popularis credentials, and many modern historians assume that he too was strongly supported by the city p ~ p u l a c e . This ~ paper will demonstrate that Catilines alleged urban support is an ancient and modern myth. An examination of why Clodius succeeded where Catiline failed will highlight the factors governing popular mobilization in the city of Rome, including the social and economic composition of its population, and will show the limits of what even Clodius could achieve. As we shall see, the waters are muddied by Ciceros repeated accusations against Clodius that he was a former Catilinarian who had inherited his vices, his cause, and his followers. It is argued below that there was little truth in this invective.


An alternative response is to identify lower-class mobilization in the mid-Republican period, e.g. Yakobson, The peoples voice (n. 3, above) 204-06.

E. G. Hardy, The Catilinaiian conspiracy in its context: a restudy of the evidence, JRS 7 (1917) 153-228, remains a useful narrative study

On Clodius see W. J. Tatum, The putrician /ril,une: Publius Clodius Pulcher (Chapel Hill, NC 1999).

l 3 For populures and popularis ideology see N . Mackie, Popularis ideology and popular politics at Rome in the first century B.C., RhM 135 (1992)49-73; Tatum, Patrician tribune (n. 12, above) 1-31.

l4 E.g. W. A. Allen, Jr., In defense of Catiline, CJ 34 (1938-39) 70-85; J . W. Heaton, Mob violetice in the lure R o m n Republic, 133-49 BC (Urbana, IL 1939) 58; L. R. Taylor, Partypolitics in the age o f Caesar (Berkeley & Los Angeles, CA 1949) 127; D. C. Earl, The political thought of Sullust (Cambridge 1961) 91; Z. Yavetz, The failure of Catilines conspiracy, Historia 12 (1963) 488-99; P. A. Brunt, The conspiracy of Catiline, HT 13 (1963) 16-17; The Roman mob, PBP 35 (1966) 20; A. Kaplan, Catiline: the tnan and his role in the Roman Revoluiion (New York, NY 1968) 64; S. Treggiari, Roman freedmen during the late Republic (Oxford 1969) 172; D. Stockton, Cicero: a political biography (Oxford 1971) 101; E. S . Gruen, The last generatiotz of the Ronwn Republic (Berkeley & Los Angeles 1974) 426-28; E. Rawson, Cicerot a portrait (London 1975) 76; L. Havas, Theplebs Romanu in the late 60s B.C.,ACD 15 (1979) 23-33; T. N. Mitchell, Cicero: the ascending years (New Haven, CT 1979) 231; G.E. M. de S k Croix, The class struggle in the ancietzt Creek world (London 1981) 353-54; Vanderbroeck, Popular 1eader.ship (n. 3, above) 107, 122, 129; T. P. Wiseman, The senate and the polmlures, 69-60 B.C., in CAHz IX (1994) 356; A. Giovannini, Catilina et le problhe des dettes, in Malkin & Rubinsohn, Leaders and mas.w.s (n. I , above) 16-17; Yakobson, Elections (n, 3, above) 208-09; Tatum, Fafrician tribune (n. 12, above) 144; The Final Crisis (69-44 BC), in Morstein-Marx & Rosenstein, Comimiion (n. I , above) 195.


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3. Cuncta plebes: Catiline s urban jollowing

In his speeches Against Catiline, Cicero strcsscs that the Roman populace werc firmly behind him in his stand against the conspiracy. In his famous first specch (8 Novcmbcr), Ciccro claims that the population is panic-stricken, and that all loyal citizens havc rallied to the standard. The following day (9 November), Cicero delivered his second spccch to the pcoplc at a contio in the forum, and clearly assumes thc support of his audience. The consul draws satisfaction from thc fact that now Catiline has left the city, he can wage open war without hindrance upon a public enemy, and believes that Rome is thankful that it has vomited forth that deadly pestilence and rid itsclf of In his third spcech (3 Dcccmber), also dclivered i n the forum, Cicero urges his audience to defcnd their homes, as you did last night with your pickets and sentries'.'' Finally, during his speech in the midst of the debate over the fate of the captured conspirators in thc temple of Concord (5 December), Cicero claims that a pimp of Lentulus failed to rally support for his patron in the tubernae, because the whole class of tubernarii were most devoted to peace.19 Ciceros evidence is, as usual, highly problematic. I n the second speech, hc urges supporters of Catilinc who havc rcinained in the city to It is not clear exactly who Ciccro is referring to i n this passage, and some scholars have attempted to use it to show that he thus acknowledgcd that Catiline had substantial backing among the plebs.2 However, the fact that Ciccro qualifics his initial statement by saying that thcse men wcrc left in Rome b y Catiline to destroy both thc city and all q f y o u (my cmphasis) suggests that hc is spcaking about his personal, aristocratic, f o l l ~ w e r s Moreover, .~~ in the samc oration, when Cicero lists thc various supporters of Catilinc, he noticcably neglects to mention the urban plebs. Of course, any speech was inevitably shaped by its purpose and its audicnce. Ciceros second Cutilinarian was dclivered at a crucial moment: hc was revealing the conspiracy to the Roman peoplc. He would hardly havc contemplated accusing his own audience of complicity in a bitter and widespread civil war, when he was trying to advertise their loyalty to him. Mouritsen has argued that most contiones were little more than rallies, in which the orator would address an audiencc of already

Ciccro prepared his orations for publication in 60 BC (An, 2. I .3), at a time when he was under fire for his actions at the time of the conspincy. Thus the orator could have altered his speech to stress the support he reccivctl then. However, there are good reasons to believe that the published speeches arc generally faithful representations of what was said by Cicero at the time: C. Craig, Three siniplc questions for teaching CIccros First Ccrtifinariun. CJ 88 (1993) 256-58.

Cic. ~ r r r I. . I

Cic. Cut. 2. I , 2. For the state as a character or body, see G. Williams, Trodition c u d originality in Reirriurz poetry (Oxlhrd 1968) 628-29.

Cic. Cut. 3.29.

Cic.Ccrr. 4.17. See below (section 3) on tabernarii Cic. Cot. 2.27.
? ?

Mavas, Theplebs Rorncma (n. 14, above) 24-25. Cic. Celt. 2.27. Cut. 2.28




sympathetic listeners.24 If this were the case, and the arguments in favour are strong, then the evidence of Ciceros Catilinarian speeches cannot be confidently employed to indicate whether or not Catiline enjoyed much support among the urban plebs. Other Ciceronian passages may suggest that the plebs were not as unified against the conspiracy as he claimed. In the defence speech for Murena, also delivered during the crisis, Cicero raises the spectre of a plebeian secession to the A~entine.~ However, it is clear from the context of the passage that the consul is not speaking about urban support for conspiracy, but is making a rhetorical point about patrician nobilitas. Several years after the conspiracy, Cicero himself admitted that Catiline was supported by a number of men from every order.26 In this casc, it seems clear that they were senators or equites, rather than the people whom he described in private as the dregs of the city (fhex urbis). We are told that Catiline, striking a popularis pose, claimed that he represented the miseri with no leader, perhaps meaning that he saw himself as representing the urban poor as well as his rural following.28 However, this is worthless as a piece of evidence for the actual extent of his urban support. Cicero wrote that the desire and clamour for debt abolition (tabulae novae, Catilines revolutionary slogan) was extremely intense in 63 BC.29Many aristocrats, and significant sections of the free rural population, were straining under debts in these years, but it remains to be seen whether or not the proposal held great appeal for many of the urban plebs. For instance, it seems unlikely that the poor majority, probably paying daily rents, were able to secure officially regulated loans that could be affected by a law concerning debt reduction or ab~lition.~ Finally, in the speech In Defence of Flaccus, Cicero says that on the condemnation of C. Antonius (his consular colleague in 63 BC), who was the nominal commander of the force that eventually defeated Catiline at Pistoria, the tomb of the conspirator was decked with flower^.^' This is a particularly interesting piece of information, since it shows that Catiline continued to be remembered fondly by at least some people in subsequent years. However, it is

4 Mouritsen, Plebs undpolifics (n. 6, above) 38-62; cf. Morstein-Marx, Muss orufory (n. 7, above) 131-59, who agrees that speakers normally spoke to a favourable audience, but also draws attention to instances in which this ideal does not appear to have been upheld. More on this issue below (section 3 ) .

Cic. Mur. 15.


Cic. G e l . I 2.

Cic. A t f . 1.16.11. For Ciceros attitude to the lower classes see N. Wood, Ciceros suciul und poli/icul thought
(Los Angeles, CA 1988) 90-104.
Cic. Mur. 50- 1 ,

Cic. De Off. 2.84.

The whole idea that the crisis of 63 BC was specifically a credit crisis is unsound, as A. Drummond, Tribunes and tribunician programmes in 63 B.C., Ahenueum 87 (1999) 136-47, persuasively demonstrates. It i s notable that Clodius, who did understand the needs and desires of the city populace, apparently never raised the issue of debt. Caesars later measures can be understood in terms of a genuine liquidity crisis brought about by civil war; see M. W. Frederiksen, Caesar, Cicero and the problem of debt, JRS 56 (1966) 128-41. On urban rents, see B. Frier, L.urzd1urd.v and tenants in Imperial Rome (Princeton, NJ 1980) 5 1.
31 Cic.

Flucc. 95.


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impossible, from Ciceros evidence, to determine how many people venerated Catiline at this time, or of what social s(atus they were.32 [ICiceros specches arc of little use i n assessing how far Catiline enjoyed the support of the urban plebs, are later, non-eyewitness accounts, any more reliable? Free of the concerns with which Cicero, as an important actor in the proceedings, was faced, later authors may have been able to deliver a more impartial account. Unlike him, they had no obvious reason to deny the support or involvement of the Roman populace. Not only is Sallusts War against Cotiline our second most valuable source for the evcnts of the conspiracy, but on this question his account contradicts the image provided in Ciceros speeches, and historians have regularly cited his cvidencc to show that Catilinc was supported by the Roman plebs.3 Hc states that the whole populace (curicra plebes) through a desire for revolution favoured the designs of Catiline.4 Sallust offcrs specific causes for the discontents of the urban populace. He says that the prolligate and the criminal had flowed into Rome as into a cesspool. In keeping with his general theme of Catiline as representing the legacy of Sulla, Sallust also states that people had remembered the riches bestowcd on the dictators supporters, and hoped that Catiline would do likewise.6 Finally, the historian describes how men who had lived in the countryside were tempted by public and private doles and had come to prefer idleness in the city to their hateful toil. Sallusts apparently clcar-cut evidence has thus not only lccl many scholars to accept that Catiline was widcly supported in the city, but has also helped to lay the foundation for the view that the urban plebs were nothing more than an idle mob devoted to bread a i d circuses.* The social make-up of the city and falsity of the bread and circuses clichC are discussed below, but Sallusts reasoning about rural to urban migration is also problcmatic. It is not i n doubt that Rome could not have grown to i t s late-Republican size without large-scale immigration from the countryside. Elsewhere, Sallust implies that this movement was caused by the dispossession of the peasantry, but in this passage it is attributed to the temptations of lcir-gitiorzes in the city, by which he must want his readers to think of grain distribution^.'^ However, this claim is implausible for the time of the Catilinarian conspiracy, since Sulla had abolished distributions during his dictatorship, they were only revived on a limited scale (apparently for some 40,000 rccipicnts) in 73 BC, and they were not free.40Sallust was possibly correct i n suggesting

Corirrrr Stc Croix, Class striiggle (11. 14, above) 354, believing that the information marks Catilinc out as a
popiikrris maiiyr.

Yavctz, Failure (n. 14. above), bases much of his discussion on the fact that Sallust ... clearly points out that the whole Plebs supported Catiline (p. 488).

SnII. Cut. 37. I . Sallusl hcre simply cinploys an archaic use of the term plebs
Sall. Cut. 37.5.


Cut. 37.6.

Sail. Cut. 37.7.

J u v . 10.79-81. Mitchell, The Asceridi~ig Yeurs (n. 14, abovc) 23 I . tlcsci-ibes thc urban populac niiiss including varied types of chronic necr do wells.

Sall. Iug. 41.5.

C. Gracchus first inti.otluced cheap subsitlised grain rations ( 5 rriodii pci month) in 122 BC (App. BCfv. I . ? I ;
l % ~ r . C. Grucc. 6); Sulla abolished the distributions (Sall. Hisr. 1.55. I I); in 73 B.C. they were rcvivctl (Sall. Hisr.



that largitiones encouraged significant immigration into the city, but it is most unlikely that such a movcmcnt in response to grain distributions had occurred immediately prior to 63 BC.41 Morc generally, Sallust states that the poor always envy the rich and long for general social upheaval.42 In doing so, as McGushin points out, he is reflecting a tradition seen elsewhere in his work, and one which was common in Greek political theory.43 Sallusts internal rcasoning and his ideological bias thus undermine his claims about the support of the urban plebs for Catiline. Elsewhere in his narrative, Sallust presents the plebs as being fickle (another common ancient notion), stating that they changed their minds and denounced Catiline after the disclosure of the conspiracy, as they feared for their scanty possessions if the city wcrc to be set ablaze.44 It is most unlikely that the whole of the urban populace could be so easily turned from enthusiastic supporters of the conspiracy into fierce opponents. Of coursc, there was no urban insurrection, and Sallust unsuccessfully attempts to reconcile this with his ideological view that the poor always long for revolution. It may be true that the Roman plebs were relieved at the suppression of the conspiracy, and that opinions among many sections of thc city differed over time, but Sallusts evidence is generally flawcd on this question, and cannot lead to solid conclusions about the level of popular support for Catilinc. As ever, Sallusts general moral schema shapes his historical narrative. The plebs, in the War against Catiline, act out of purely selfish motives. Infected by the general corruption of Roman morals, they support the uphcaval offered by Catilines insurrection. When their own interests are threatened .by these plans, they quickly turn into loyal supporters of Cicero. Too many historians have accepted the implications of Sallusts evidence as historical fact, and have not considered how far it is tainted by the historians ideological and rhetorical strategy.45 Later authors were largely dependent on Cicero and Sallust for their information. Plutarchs description of the support for Catiline in his Life of Cicero echoes that of Sallust in stating that the populace of Rome was fuelled by revolutionary desires, which only needed a spark.4GHe also states that Cicero, at the time of the execution of the conspirators, observed that there were bands of people in the forum who were expected to carry out the urban ins~rrection.~ Howevcr, he also states that after the execution, the people applauded him as the saviour and founder of Following Cicero, Plutarch
3.48.19; Cic. 2 Verr. 3.163, cf. 3.173). See P. Garnsey, Funzine andfood m p p l y in the Crueco-Roman world: res/mtises to risk und crisis (Cambridge 1988) 182-217; cf. G. Rickman, The corn supply ofancient Rome (New York, NY 1980) 26-54.

Private lurgitiones had always existed, and so cannot account for the influx. The push-factor of agrarian disruption and warfare in these years, and the pull-factor of chance for political participation may have been the real reasons for a significant influx in the early to mid-first century BC.


SaII. Cur. 37.3

P. McGushin, C. Sullustius Crisps, Bellurn Cutilinue: A Conzmeiifury (Lciden 1977) 203. See Sall. lug. 86.3; Plato. Rep. 552d, Laws 738c; Arist. Pol. 1265b; cf. Cic. Sest. 99.


Sail. Cur. 48.1-2

E.g. Earl, Sullust (n. 14, above) 91: This picturc of the urban plebs seems generally sound. Hut. Cic. 10. Piut. Cic. 22.


H u t . Cic. 22; sce C. B. R. Pelling, Plu/urc/i und history: eighteen studies (London 2002) 45-49 on the sources for Plutarchs LiJe o f Cicero.


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vividly describes the eventual loyalty of the plebs to the governmcnt. Like Sallust, he sees the people as a potentially revolutionary force at all times. Throughout his Roman biographies, Plutarch contrasts the oligoi to the demos, the two constantly in conflict.49This was an understandable way to view Roman politics during the first century BC, but as Pelling has argued, Plutarch applies his Greek stereotypes more schematically than other authors such as Cassius Dio, showing that he had only a partial understanding of Republican politics. Certainly, his evidence is of no greater value than that ofCiccro and Sallust [or assessing thc extent of Catilines urban following. The same can be said for Appians Roman History narrative. He states that Catilinc was able to recruit demotui, but this forms part of a description of Catilines followers in which almost no group is left out. Appians narrative of the conspiracy is largely dependent upon that of Sallust. Nevertheless, there arc a couple of discrepancies between the two. The Alexandrian historian reports thc same information as Sallust, stating that agcnts of Lcntulus and Cethegus tried to rally support in the city after their arrest.52 Howcvcr, whereas Sallust only says that support was sought out, Appian claims that supporters (artisans: cheirotechnui) were gathered. Sallust is surely to be preferred here. Interestingly Appian, unlike Cicero and Plutarch, says that the people merely scuttled away after the execution, as they were relieved that thcy had not been It is not clcar what Appians source for this information was. It stands in stark contrast to Ciccros own testimony, and too much weight should probably not be placed upon it. Cassius Dio states that the lowest characters (kukistoi) from Rome were among Catilines supporters, and he claims that thc people were angry with Cicero for cxecuting the conspirators without It is, i n fact, possible that the events surrounding Ciccros formal standing-down from his consulship on December 3 I support the notion that Catiline enjoyed significant support among the urban plebs. The tribune Metellus Nepos, at thc instigation of the people, according to Dio, attempted to prevent Cicero from giving a customary speech recording his achicvements as consul.55Metellus justification was that someone who had condemned others to death should not have the right to speak in public. Thus a popularis tribune effectively proclaimed the illegality of Ciceros actions in suppressing the conspiracy only days after he had taken them. Does this show that the people had supported Catiline? Three objections may be offered. Firstly, Ciccro himself, who cleverly was able to deliver thc speech he had intended, claims that the whole Roman people acclaimed him and led him from the forum to his house.56 Secondly, as we have sccn, it is perilous to take the reported attitude of a particular audience at a contio as evidence fbr the opinion of the people in general. Thirdly, even if the people were against

Pelling Ilrrturch und history (n. 48, above) 207-36.

Pelling P/u/crrchand liistory (n. 48, above) 213.

~ p p BCiv. . 2.2. App. BCiv. 2.5; cf. Snll. Cur. SO.1-2.

App. K i v . 2.6.

130. 37.30.2;



Dio. 37.38.1-2: cf. Plut. Cic. 23.1-2.

Cic. P i s . 4-7.



Cicero at this point, their reason was not necessarily that he had executed their champions, but rather that he had offended popular libertas by not sending the conspirators to As we shall see, Clodius also fiercely attacked Cicero for his actions on December 5, but it is argued that this is best interpreted in the context of Clodius own strong commitment to the peoples libertas, rather than to lingering popular support for the Catilinarian cause, or even to Clodius own alleged connections with Catilk.* Finally, the fact that the younger Cato, as a conservative tribune in 62, felt compelled to introduce a measure extending the scope of subsidized grain distributions to the plebs, does not indicate that Catiline had gathered a substantial following in the city.5g It does highlight the fact that, as is shown below, Rome was beset by social problems arising from the size of its population. However, tellingly, there is no indication in the sources that Catiline promised to take any action regarding the food supply of the city. Unlike Clodius, he presumably was not interested in improving the welfare of the urban plebs, or in making promises that would gain him great popularity among them. His rallying-cry of tabulae novae was directed at the indebted aristocracy and at impoverished rural dwellers. The literary evidence concerning Catilines urban support is so problematic that it is surprising modern historians have drawn apparently secure conclusions from it. It is possible that the unsettled events at the turn of 63-62, which do not show that Catiline had an urban following, led some authors to believe that he in fact did. One major problem is that ancient writers often wrote about the plebs as if it were a single abstract body with one mind. They were not particularly interested in determining exactly who among the urban plebs, if anyone, supported Catiline. It hardly needs pointing out that it is highly improbable that the urban populace would be of one mind over political issues, when the total number of the free plebs in Rome during the first century may have been as high as 500,000. The social structure of the city population and its living standards placed severe limits upon political participation and how far any politician could gather support. A brief examination can illustrate more about Catilines urban following than the direct literary evidence alone can, and it also establishes the parameters within which Clodius had to operate.
f Rome and democracy in the Late Republic 3. The city o

As the figure of perhaps 500,000 free inhabitants implies, the city of Rome in the late Republic was unique by the standards of the ancient world. Its population was probably between 750,000-1,000,000people at the time of the conspiracy, and its growth was rapid since the second century BC.60Life in such a huge and massively overcrowded metropolis

For libertas see C. Wirszubski, Libertas as a political idea at Rome during the lute Republic and early
Principate (Cambridge 1960); Brunt, The fall (n. I , above) 281-350.

* See section 4, below

Plut. Cat. Min. 26.1.

On estimates of the population see P. A. Brunt, The Roman mob (n. 14, above) 9; Italian Manpower 225 B.C.-AD. 14 (Oxford 1971) 383; K. Hopkins, Conquerors and slaves: sociological studies in Roman history, vol. I (cambridge 1978) 96-98; J. E. Stambaugh, The ancient Roman ciry (Baltimore, MD 1988) 89; N. Morley, Metropolis and hinterland: the city o f Rome and the Italian economy 200 B.C.-A.D. 200 (Cambridge 1996) 39; W. Jongman, Slavery and the growth of Rome: the transformation of Italy in the second and first centuries HCE, in Ronze the cosmopolis, ed. C. Edwards & G. Woolf (Cambridge 2003) 103; cf. G. R. Storey, The

I 04

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was far from easy. Housing was generally of low quality, with poorer inhabitants dwelling i n the upper-floors of insulue, which wcrc multi-storey apartment blocks prone to collapse or destruction by fire, in which there was littlc space and minimal amcnitics.62 Hungcr was a constant thrcat, incaning that the lood supply became a contcntious political issue throughout thc latc Rep~iblic.~ Even if thc population of the city generally cscaped the risk of starvation, i t sccnis likely that thc majority of people were m a l n o ~ r i s h c d . In ~~ addition, general sanitary conditions appear to have becn appalling, meaning that Romc was a vcritable breeding ground for disease.6sThe cffececl of diseases such as typhoid fever and tubcrculosis on malnourished people was oftcn fatal. I t is also increasingly t-ecognised that malaria was common in the city, and this infection exacerbatcd the effects of othcrs. Thus the annual mortality ratc in the city must havc been staggeringly high, perhaps 60 per 1000 people, which meant that massive continual immigration of both lice pcople and slavcs was required to maintain the population.67 Ncw immigrants wcrc naturally most

population of ancient Rome, Anliquity 7 1 (1997) 966-78, whose cslimatcd maximum of 450,000 is too low. N. Purccll. The city of Rome and the plebs iirburiu in the latc liepublic, in CAHZ 9 (1994) 644-88. at 652, probably rightly cites rhe first half of the fii-st century RC as the period of iiiosl rapid irrunigratiori. alrliough he is too optimistic to explain i h i s ptircly i n icrins of pull factors.
Contrri R. Laurence, Writing the Rornnn metropolis, in R o w i n urlxuiisni: beyond /he conx~~r~ier c i t y , ed. H. Iarkins (London 1997) 1-20; cf. J . R. Patterson, The city of Ronie, in Morstein-Marx & Roscnstein, C o r , i / ~ n i o t (n. i I , above) 345-64; N. Morlcy, The poor in the cily or Romc, i n Poverfy i n the Roniun world, ed. M. Atkiiis bi R. Osborne (Oxford 2006) 21-39, who are rightly pessimistic.

On housing see A . Scobie, Slums, sanitation and morlality in the Iioinan world, Klio 68 (1986) 399-433: for lire risks S . Johnstone, On tlic uses of arson in classical Rome, i n Sriidies iri Lafin /iterurure und Koniun hisrorv 6, ctl. C. Deroux (Brussels 1992) 52-56,

Garnscy, Funitie (n. 40, above) 198-203, identifies fifteen food crises 104.36 H.C. See also Rickinan, Corn x i q ~ p l y(n. 40, above); D. Cherry, Hunger at Rome in the latc Kcpublic. EMC 37 (1993) 433-50.

P. Carnsey, Mass diet and nutiition in the city of Rome, i n Cilie.7. /misunrs unclfood in clnssical un/iqiii/y: economic cictivify (Cambridge 1998) 226-52; id , /.bod arid society in clti.r.sicol on/ic/iii/y (Canibritlgc 1999) 49-59, has bi.ought chronic malnutrition to tlic ;ittention of historians :iccustoincd to conccnIr;iIc incrcly on specilic cliscs, which he also invcs1ig;itctl. G. Kron, Anrhroponieiry, physical anrhropomctry, and thc rccoiisIruclion of ancient health, nutrition, and living standards, Historiu 54 (2005) 6883 is generally optiinistic about the nutritional standards of Romans, but his data sccnis scarcely applicable to the late-Republican population of tlic city of Rome.
e.ssriys irr socinl arid

Scobie, Slums, sanitation ;ind niortality (11. 62, above), remains ii classic pessimistic slalenient on Roman sunitary conditions; cf. 0. F. Robinson, Aricierit Rome: city planning rind ndrniriisrrurion (London 1992) I I 1-28; Purcell, The city of Rome (n. 60, abovc) 667; Laurence, Roman metropolis (11. 61, above) 11-14.

Scc gcncrnlly M. D. Grinek, IXseuses it1 the ciricienc Greek world (London 19S9). On the role of nialaiia see 13runt, Iruliurt nuinpower (n. 60. above) 61 1-24; H. D. Shaw, Seasons of dcalh: aspects of inortality in Iniperial Iioinc, JRS 86 (1996) 100-38, who both seek to minimize its cfltct. W. Scheidel, Libitinas hitter gains: seasonal mortality and endemic discasc in the ancient city of Rornc, /\ncSoc 25 (1994) 15 1-75; Meamring sex, o,qe nncl rleutli in the Roniuri Enipire: explorations in ancient c/eri?ograplry (Ann Arbor, MI 1996) 142-5 I ; Germs (or Rome. i n Edwards RC Woolf, Ko,iie /lie costnopolis (n. 60, abovc) 158-76; K. Sallares, Mulorici und Korne: ci hislory CJ{ niularin in nncietrt //(i/y (Oxfoi-d 2002) esp. 20 1-34, convincingly argue that i l was widely prevalent and of enormous demographic significance


Mortality rates: Schcidel, Gcrnis for Rome (n. 66, above) 174-75. On numbers of immigrants necdcd see

Morlcy, Mefropolis arid hiriterlatid (n. 60, abovc) 45; Jongman, Growth of Romc (n. 60, above) 107-08 arguing 1 1 ~ almost 1 all migrants would tx slaves; cf. Scheidel, Germs for [ioiiie. 175-76; Human mobility in Roman

Italy, I : thc free populalion, ./RS94 (2004) 1-26, at 15-17, refuting the basis of Jonginans calculalions; id.,



susceptible to infection, being unlikely to have acquired any natural immunity. The turnover of bodies in and out of the city is therefore likely to have been enormous, meaning that Rome had an essentially fluid population.69 In these circumstances it may even be misleading to speak of the city population at all, given that it must have been extremely transient. It must have been difficult for any pan-city consciousness to d e ~ e l o p . The ~ population was varied ethnically and socially. A large, but unquantifiable body of freedmen existed alongside the freeborn and slaves. The occupational structure of the city offers insights into how segments of the population were ablc to organize, and so it is a fundamental factor when assessing popular political mobilization in the Republic. Neverthelcss, cvcn this brief demographic discussion renders Sallusts lazy notion that the whole populace supported Catiline demonstrably ludicrous. Rather- than being the parasitic mob of popular imagination, the free population of Rome had to work in order to secure shelter and even rudimentary food. The following discussion of paid employment will generally concern the freeborn and freedmen rather than slaves. Indirectly though, the role of slaves is significant, as it has been argued that they provided competition for work with the freeborn poor, and increasingly came to displacc them7 Slaves certainly predominated in the households of wealthy Roman inhabitants, and many were able to use their peculiurn to act as semi-independent artisans or craftsmen, which necessarily denied employment to significant numbers of freeborn inhabitants. Superficially, it might seem that with a rapidly expanding population (especially if many newcomers were slaves), the prospect of uncmployment for the free populace would grow equally rapidly. However, it is perhaps more true to state that as population grew, so employment opportunities would also grow, though probably not proportionately. The growth of the city would facilitate the expansion of the service sector of the economy, as people would require food, clothes, and other necessary (and for some, luxury) items. The enrichment of the city and its wealthier residents through overseas conquests would also create similar employment opportunities, notably in the grand public building schemes which became increasingly common, though still intermittent, in the last century of the Republic.72

Human mobility in Roman Italy, 11: the slave population, JKS 95 (2005) 64-79, at 67, for the possible number of slaves in Ihc cily.

Scheidel, Germs for Rome (n. 66, above) 164.

69 Purcell, The city of Rome (n. 60, above) 648-59, is essentially correct to demonstrate this, although his assessment of living standards seems unduly optimistic.

O As noted by N. Morley, Migration and the metropolis, in Edwards & Woolf, Rome the cosmwpolis (n. 60, above) 147-57, at 155. This does not mean that local pockets of identity based on neighbourhoods or voluntary associations were not possible, see below in this section.

Brunt, The Roman mob (n. 14, above) 14-17; id., Free labour and public works at Rome, JRS 70 (1980) 81-100, argues that from the perspective of the Roman elite, free labour must have been preferable to slave labour as it was casual, contra L. Casson, Unemployment: the building trade, and Suetonius, Vesp 18.15.1-2. UASP 15 (1978)43-51.


D. E. Strong, The administration of public building in Rome during the late Republic and early Principate, BlCS 15 (1968) 97-109.


1 3 1 c s 51 -2008

Thc importance of opifiices antl tabenzarii in thc population of thc city has becn much d i s c u ~ s c d .They ~ ~ are gencrally considered as being artisans and shopkccpers, rcspectively, and the terms are usually translatcd straightforwardly in this way. Howevcr, Hollcran has rcccntly demonstrated that thc word tuberrzarii docs not ncccssarily signify a class of shopkeepers, as has often been stated by scholars who assume that Rome posscssed a fixed-shop retail t r a d ~ The . ~ ~ two terms could overlap in gcneral usage, perhaps because many shopkeepers madc their products to Such occupations, for examplc fullcrs, shocmakcrs etc., were undoubtedly widesprcad and vital in Romc, providing for its population, to the cxterit that Purcell cxaggcratedly claims that tahernarii werc synonymous with the urban population .76 Skilled artisans and perhaps retailers probably formed something of an upper stratum within Romcs lower orders, the temporary poor or the plebs media. Although the epigraphic evidcncc is inherently biased towards freedmen, it may he truc that they largely dominatcd in these This would not be surprising. Slaves could be trained in the relevant skills, i f they werc not already trained bcfore purchase at Romc. Having worked up cnough money i n their trade using their peculium, many slaves would havc been i n a position to purchase their fr~edom.~ In all likelihood thcy would havc continued in thc samc occupation, passing their skills onto descendents. Although success and wealth would havc varied within the scctor, it would appear that skilled freedmen, under the patronage, or with the financial backing, of their former masters, would havc been in a morc advantagcous position than the grcat mass of unskilled inhabitants to make a successful living 21s an opifex or rabertzuriiis. Nevertheless, it would probably bc mistaken to assume that all opifices and raberrzurii were frccdrnen. Importantly, lcgal status cannot be dircctly inferrcd from these words alone.79

E.g. H. J . Lome, hidustry rind coninierce u f / h e ci/y ufKonze: 50 BC-ZOO AD (Haltiinorc 1938); J . Carcopino, llnily lijie iti nncien/ Rome, trans. E. 0. Loiirner (London 1940) 191-205; S. M. Treggiari, Urban labour in Ibmc: mercemirii and tabeniurii, in Noii-.s/ave labour in the Gmco-Roman world, cd. P. Garnscy (C;unbridge 1980) 48-64; S. R. Joshel, Work, identity, and legal status nt Rome: n study UJ occ~il~ci/ional inscriptions (Norman 1992); Purcell, The city of Komc (n. 60, above) 659-72.


C. I-lolleran, Tile retail trude in rhe ciry id Kome, PhD Thesis (Manchester 2005) 68-128. Tobernae could refer buildings encompassing a wide variety of uses, such :IS housing, craft production, book sale, inns or brothels, iiiedicnl care etc.

Taturn, Iutriciuii fribuiie (n. 12, abovc) 17. Ccrlainly tnberirririi often i-elcrred lo cr.;iftsmeii/rerail~rs,or occupations such as baking or butcheiy, in which raw matcrial had to be proccsscd before sdc. Iurccll, The City of Rome (n. 60, above) 661.


Brunt, The. Roinan mob (n. 14, above) 15-16; P. Gxnsey, Indepcndcnt frccdmcn antl the cconorny of Ronian Italy under the PI-incipate, K l i ~ 63 (1981) 3 9 - 7 1 , Freedmcn would have reason to bc proud of their manumission, and been successful cnough to pay for a funerary inscription. See also Trcggiari. Urban labour (11. 73, above) 55-56; Joshel, Work, idrn/i/y mid legal .T/afu,s (n, 73, above); Purccll, The City of Rome (n. 60, above) 662-65.

I-iopkins, Conquerors arid slaves (n. 60, above) 125-26; K. R. Bradley. Slaves nrrd masters iu the Ronrati Empire: (1 stuCf.y in sociul control (0x101-d 1987) 108-09.

) Rightly pointed out by Tatuin, Purriciciii tribune (n, 12, above) 18.



Brunt argued that the unskilled free poor (perhaps rural immigrants) had only casual, seasonal labour available to them, especially in the docking and building trades. Such workers were termed rnercenarii (or rnercennarii) or conducticii. Howcvcr, again it should not be simply assumed that a11 mercenarii were freeborn, even if the majority in fact were. The late Republic may have providcd increasing employment opportunities for such unskilled workers. The huge and growing import trade of Rome would require increasing numbers of workers fetching and carrying on the docks. Perhaps more importantly, the building trade offered sizeable prospects for employment. Politicians were aware of this, and large schemes of public works were potentially a sourcc of personal popularity.82 It has even been estimated that during the reign of Caracalla (AD 21 1-17) there would have been up to 20,000 men employed in building in Rome at any one time.83 Furthermore, even if dock and building labour was seasonal and casual i n nature, labourers may also have been able to find some agricultural work in the suburbium, or in the well-attested hawking of basic goods.84 The apparently large-scale nature of employment available in Rome does not, however, imply that most inhabitants were comfortable or prosperous. While unskilled labour may have made the difference between life and death for many peoplc, thc three denarii that may have constituted the approximate daily wage would have been insufficient to keep a man or family from dire poverty, given the high price of rent at Rome, and thc continual necessity to buy food and clothing on the market.85 Economically life was thus precarious. Did this prcvent the urban plebs from engaging in late-Republican politics? What forms of organization were available to them, and what was their level of political participation during the late Republic? Our knowledge of the organization of people among thc population of Rome is extremely fragmentary. This is a significant obstacle to understanding the nature of popular political participation in the late Republic. Nevertheless, some important generalizations can be made. Just as in modern populations, people would have had several overlapping sources of self-identity, such as their family, neighbourhood,
O As Holleran, Retuil rrude (n. 74, above) 173-98, has shown, the free poor may have also found employment opportunities in hawking and casual street trading as an alternative or additional form of income.

D. J . Mattingly & J. S. Aldrete, The feeding of Jmpenal Rome: the mechanics of the food supply system, in Aizcient Rome: {he urchaeology ufthe Eternuf Ciry, ed. J. Coulston and H. Dodge (Oxford 2000) 142-65, at 156-57.

The warehouse developments, instigated by C. Gracchus (Plut. C. Grucc. 6; App. BCiv. 1.21) would have been popular. There is also the famous story of Vespasian refusing to adopt a labour-saving device because he would not then be able to feed his poor commons (Suet. Vesp. 18); see also Strong, The administration of public building (n. 72, above); F. Coarelli, Public building in Rome between the Second Punic War and Sulla, PBSR 45 (1977) 1-23.
83 J. DeLaine, Building the Eternal City: the construction industry of Imperial Rome, in Coulston & Dodge, Ancient R u m (n. 8 1, above) 132.

On the suburbium see R. Witcher, The extended metropolis: urbs, suburbiurn and population, JRA 18 (2005) 120-38. For hawking see Holleran, Retuil Trade (n. 74, above).

denurii: Cicero, Ros. Com. 28 (dated 76-66 BC). It is highly probable that wonien and children would also have worked, although they are generally attested in trades abovc this level such as retail. Even if one doubles the daily income of 3 denarii, it is still a woeful total income; cf. Cherry, Hunger at Rome (n. 63, above) 446.


HICS-5 1 -2008

socioeconomic status, religious afiiliation, or occupation.86 TWO forms of organization that havc been considered particularly significant i n shaping the social and political lives of ordinary Romans in thc capital arc the neighbourhood (vicus) and collegiunz. Modcrn scholars oftcn confidcntly discuss thc latter, obscuring just how little their nature is understood, at least in the Rcpublican era.87The term could rcfer to thc official saccrdotal colleges and sacred sodalires, but more importantly lor the currcnt discussion, it also covcrcd private associations of peoplc sct up in the city. Some collegia were based on crafts such as thc association of buildcrs (collegiu,nfabrorum), which were thought by thc Romans thcmsclvcs to bc of great antiquity. Although collegia were not organizations akin to modern trade unions, i.e. pressure groups aiming to improve the working conditions/rcnurncration of their nicmbcrs, or even to medieval trade guilds, the noneconomic functions o f guilds havc been highlighted, and a recent study shows that ancient collegia could actively promote the economic intcrest of their trades.89 Collegia were not only based on occupation. They could also bc set up [or worship a particular d ~ i t y . ~ Wilson identifies eight fcaturcs common to collegia:


3. 4. 5. 6. 7.


Formal organization, i.e. rules of cntry and standards of behaviour. Absence of the demand for cxclusive allegiancc. Organizational hierarchy within collegia. Lowcr-class membership, Socializing as the imjor activity of collegia. A religious eleinent. Often made burial arrangements for members. Relatively sinall size, i.e. c. 20-200. the functions, membership and organization of the fact that most membership came from the this merely mcans that it excluded the elite, who of Romes population of almost 1 million. The only significant variations in income, but also

Thcse features imply a wide variety in collegia. Howevcr, most importantly, lower classes tells LIS rather littlc, whcn probably made up only a few thousand lower classes thus would include not
J . Bert

Lott, 77ie ~~eiglibourlrood.s oJAu,q:rrs/uri Rome (New York 2004) 1 1


collegia i n the Republic, see J.-M. Flarnbartl, Collegia Coinpitalicia: phknornene associatif, cadres tciiitoiinux ct catlrcs civiqucs clans Ic monde roinain ? I Ikpoque rkpublicaine, Kternn 6 (1981) 143-66; Lcs colleges et les elites locales h ICpoque rbpublicaine daprks Iexemple de Capouc, in Les bourgeoises ~ ~ i ~ ~ i i itcrliemres c i p ~ l . uiLr ~ Ile et k r siicles u w . J.-C., ed. M. CCbeillac-Gervasoni (Pans 1983) 7.5-90.

J . S. Kloppenborg, Collegia and tlrin.soi: issues in function, taxonomy and membership,, in Volrrtitary cr.ssocufio~is i ~ ,/re i Greieco-Rotrim world, ed. J . S. Kloppcnborg & S. G. Wilson (London 1996) 16. Not trade unions: M. 1. Finlcy, 771e citiciem ecorioniy, updated ed. (Berkeley & Los Angeles, CA 1999) 137.38; Kloppenborg, Collegia and tlricrsoi (n. 88, ;tbove) 19; cf. 0. M. van Nijf, The civic world qf projie.ssionul crswciutions in the Roriiuri Errst (Ainsterdarn 1999); and the useful article by J . R . Patterson, The collegia and thc transformation of the towns of Italy in the sccond century AD, in Llfalie dAugusre a Dioclerieri (Collection: Ecolc Francaisc dc Rome 1999) 227-38.

Even craft-bascd collegia would often or usually havc a patron deity as well

S. G. Wilson, Voluntary associations: an overview, in Kloppcnborg & Wilson, Voluritury associations (n. 88, above) 9- 13. Flanibnrd, Lcs collcgcs (n. 87, above)




differences in social strata, as freeborn Romans, freedmen and slaves may have all been rcpresented. Very little is known about the internal composition of collegia in the late Republic, although certainly they were hierarchically organized with elected leaders, but the fact that members of collegia were apparently rcquired to pay an entrance fee suggests, crucially, that the very poorest inhabitants of Rome were unlikely to have been members. Nevcrtheless, these associations provided a useful function for the city populace inasmuch as they facilitated thc coming together on a regular basis of similar groups of people, who may have lacked other social ties. Like collegia, the neighbourhoods of Rome (vici) are also relatively poorly under~toodA . ~ vicus ~ normally occupied a small area which had as its physical and social centre a crossroads (compitum) where a shrine for the neighbourhoods Lares was placed, and where the January festival of Compitalia was ~ e l e b r a t e d It . ~has ~ long bccn thought that neighbourhood clubs (collegia Compitalicia) existed, alongside other forms of collegia.95 While there was undoubtedly a relationship between the private collegia, the public divisions of vici, and the celcbration of the Compitalia, its nature is still unclear. Both collegia and vici had internal hierarchies and elected leaders, but it has been plausibly suggested that neighbourhood magistrates (magistri vicorum) were not necessarily i n charge of a particular club, but rather, akin to community leader^'.^' Even though we cannot know as much as we would like to about collegia and vici, it is clcar that thcy provided an important means of association and organization for ordinary Romans, if not for the very poor. However, these associations do not appear to have been completely autonomous groups, free from ties with the social and political elite. Collegia often had their own elitc patrons, and, in 85 BC, several vici erectcd statues to Catilines alleged murdcr victim M. M a r k Gratidianus, who was responsible for a popular monetary The Handbook o f Electioneering, an electoral pamphlet ostensibly written by Q. Cicero for his brothers upcoming consular campaign (in which, of course, hc opposed Catiline), encourages candidates to cultivate the leaders of collegia and vici because of their influcnce within these groups.98 It was probably these connections that allowed Roman politicians to reach significant numbers of non-elite people, rather than by simply mobilizing a large, amorphous crowd of people by the force of rhetoric alone. This obviously begs the question of the nature and scalc of Roman political participation in the late Republic, which is crucial to any assessment of Catiline and Clodius level of urban support. Both the foregoing discussion of the ways in which the Roman plebs could be organized, and the well-informed advice contained i n the Handbook o f Electioneering,
See now

Lott, Neighbourhoods (n. 86, above) 28-60 for vici in the Republican period.

Dion. Hal. 4.14.3-4. Lott, Neighbourhoods (n. 86, above) 15, suggests that a vicus generally comprised some 2.800-3,800 inhabitants. Collegia Cornpitalicia (n. 87, above)

9s Flambard,

Lott, Neighbourhoods (n. 86, above) 51-55. He also suggests that the link between collegiu and vici and the Compiruliu may lie in the fact that private collegiu had money, and thus were able to provide the funds to the vici for the festival celebration. This is an attractive if improvable hypothesis.
Ufs 3.80; Sen. lru. 3.1 8; Pliny, NH 33.132. Pet. 30.


) Cumin.

As Millar, The Crowd (n. I , above), comes rather closc to doing.


BICS-5 1 -2008

highlight the importance of practical considerations rcgarding political participation, which Mouritsen has recently cxarnined.lm For him, the practical limitations on the participation of most Roman inhabitants in the political process, and the vast social distance between the elite and poor, meant that politics was largcly confined to the propcrticd classcs, who had the means and the leisure to altcnd regularly contiones and lcgislativc assemblies.* If Romes lower classes were completely disengagcd from politics, then the question of Catilines urban support becomes far less interestin,, 0 as our focus would be confined to his elitc and propertied supporters. Clodius support might thcn, rnistakcnly, bc identified merely as an unruly and opportunistic mob. Nobody will doubt that, on occasion, even the poorest inhabitants could take to the streets on riots, as seems clear from some incidents in the late Rcpublic. The improvised lunerals of Caesar, and Clodius himself, may be cited, but even in these cases the behaviour of crowd iinplies a level of coordination.* Nevertheless, what is at issue here is organized, and politjcally-committed, lower-class support. Here, as Mourtisen is forced to admit, tliere was a definite changc in thc late Republic, as prcviously excluded social groups camc to play an escalating role in politics, with popular pressure being increasingly cxerted.lo3 Two factors in this dcvelopmcnt were the growth of the city population itself, and the internal fragmentation of thc elite, which led to popularis politicians seeking out the support of lower class elements in the population by proposing legislation which was amenable to their interests.IM By understanding the importance of both these Iactors, and of the nature of plebeian organization, we can see why Clodius succeeded in achieving a significant urban following after Catiline had failcd.
4. Clodius success and the Catilinarian connection

P. Clodius Pulcher was one of the most important popularis politicians of thc first century BC.05 He is relevant both to the issue of popular politics i n Rome, and to that of

looMouiitsen, Plebs and poli/ic.v (n. 6 , above); somewhat prc-cmpted by 11. MacMullen, How inany Romans voted?, A//ienue~irn 58 (1980) 454-57; C. Nicolet, 7he world ofthe citizen in Repiblictiri Rome, trans. P. S. Falla (Berkeley B Los Angelcs, CA 1980) 289-97; U. Hall, Species Libertatis: voting pi-ocedure in the late Roman Rcpublic, in Modus qieradic essuys in honoirr of Ceoflrey Rick1nm, cd. M. Austin, J . I-larncs, 6i C. Smith (London 1998) 26-30.

Mouritscn, Plebs udpolitics (n. 6, above) 128-48.

See G. S. Sumi, Power and ritual: the crowd at Clotlius funeral, ffi.wiriu 46 (1997) 80-102, Tor an
interesting analysis of the events following Clodius death.

Mouiitsen, Plebs aridpolitics (n. 6, above) esp. 68-89.

North, Ilcniocratic Politics (n. 4, above) 153, stated that [tlhe popular will of the Roman pcople found cxpression in the context, and only in the context, of divisions within the oligarchy. Such divisions, of course, characterized the late Republican period, and ultimately led to the foundation of monarchy. Rather uncharacteristic of scholarship of the age, Taylor, Purypoli/ics in /he age o f Caesar (n. 14, above) 5 , noted that the growth of the city was a disturbing element in Roman politics. Brunt, The Roman mob (n. 14, abovc), remains useful on the effect of the iising population of Rornc o n the politics of the period. On thc via poplaris, see Tatum, Iutrician tribune (n. 12, above) 1-16.
E S. Cruen, P. Clodius: instrunicnt or independent agent?, Plioenix 20 (1966) 120-30; h s t Generation (11. 14, above) 441-47; A. W . Lintott, P. Clodius Pulcher -felix Cutiliricc?, G&R 14 (1967) 1.57-69; and now Ta(urii. Purriciun tribune (n. 12, above).



Catilines alleged following among the urban plebs for three reasons. Firstly, Clodius achieved great popularity among the urban plebs through his tribunician legislation in 58 BC. Secondly, he successfully mobilized significant support in the city using, crucially, the collegia and vici that are discussed above. Finally, Clodius was accused by his enemies, particularly Cicero, of inheriting Catilines cause, and recruiting Catilinarian veterans.lo6What was the basis for Clodius general popularity, and for the mobilization of supporters he was able to achieve over a significant period of time? And was Cicero right about Clodius Catilinarian connection? If so, then much of the abovc argument is incorrect, because it would mean that Catiline had organized support in the city of Rome. Firstly, unlike Catiline, Clodius was able, by virtue of his office, to propose a series of popularis measures, one of which was directly aimed at raising the living standards of the plebs urbana. Similarly in contrast to Catiline, he successfully promoted himself to the city populace as a defender of popular libertas. Notably, an important way in which he achieved this goal was by criticizing Cicero for his role in executing the Catilinarian conspirators, culminating in the building of a shrine to libertas on the site of the exiled Ciceros h o u ~ e . Thus, ~ although Clodius was, like Catiline, a patrician, he secured a transfer to the plebeians in order to reach the position of tribune, an office that had come to embody the peoples libertas.* He then was in a position to embark on a radical and, in some ways, a highly popularis reform pr~gramme.~ Following the lex Clodia frumentaria, for the first time grain distributions became the free right of all Roman citizens. More than any other measure, this secured great and lasting popularity for Clodius among the urban plebs, for many o f whom, as we have seen, scarcity and high prices were constant concerns, and perhaps even matters of life and death. Catiline does not appear to have made any promises regarding grain distributions in his consular campaigns, which perhaps suggests that he did not properly understand the needs or desires of the urban populace. An equally significant Clodian measure was the lex de collegis. This law was not only popular, concerning the forms of self-organization among the plebs discussed above, but, more importantly, it appears to have provided the basis for Clodius mobilization of supporters to provide consistent political pressure or violence at assemblies in the city right up to his death in 52 BC. Even if we cannot speak of Roman democracy, popular pressure and participation in politics did increase during the first century BC. As we have seen, the author of the Handbook of Electioneering recognized that collegia and vici were

1 U6 For Clodius as Catilines successor: Cic. Att. I .14.5; I .16.9; 4.3.3; Red. Sen. 33; Dom. 13,58,61,72,75; Sest. 42; Pis. 15-16, 23; Mil. 37,63; Asc. 9C.


Cicero described the shrine as the monument of my pain (Dunz. 100)

For the transfer see Tatum, Patrician tribune (n. 12, above) 87-1 13. See Wisernan, Roman history and the ideological vacuum (n. 3, above), for tribunes and libertus.
Iw Tatum, Putriciun tribune (n. 12, above) 114-47, for Clodius tribunate, arguing that it was not as radical generally considered.


lo This did not prevent the people from preferring the reliable Pompey for the curu uniionue in 57 BC (Plut. Pump. 49-50). The law of 58 BC made Clodius popular, but the people did not then apparently consider him to be the man to secure the supply of grain to Rome.

Cic. Red. Sen. 33; Dom. 129; Sest. 34, 55; Pis. 9; Att. 3.15.4; Asc. 7C; Dio 38.13.2


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sources of support for prospective magistrates.* AS a result of increasing popularis activity during the 60s, the senate became concerned at the fact that, through their internal leadership, collegia and vici provided a ready means of mobilizing significant nurnbcrs of people for political pressure or violence. I I3 The tribune Manilius at the beginning of his tribunate (or 66 BC forccd thc passage of a law to distributc freedmen throughout the thirty-live tribes on the day of the Compitalian games. 114 The day for the vote was carefully chosen, as members of vici and collegia would be congregated in their various locations across the city, and thus more easily mobilized. If, as Lott has conjectured, the rank and filc of neighbourhood communities were freedmen, thcn the timing of a bill for freedmen rights at a time when their civic and individual pride would be high is cvcn more significant. Lott also gives credence to reports of the widely discreditcd First Catilinarian Conspiracy, and following Fraschetti, associatcs the planncd violcticc with the Compitalia of 66/65 BC. Thc senate did fcar the actual or potcntial uses to wliich collegia and vici could be put, and banned collegiu which seemed to conflict with Ihe public interest, as well as prohibiting the celebration of thc Compitalian games in 64 BC.l A potentially important source of organized lower-class support among thc urban plebs was thus denied to Catilinc at the time of his conspiracy. Clodius removed the ban with his IneasLirc, which also permitted the foundation of ncw collegia. It is unconkoversial, but highly significant, that the newly restored and founded collegia and the vici provided the backbone for Clodius subscqucnt, often violent, activities, but i t is lcss certain who Clodius consistent supporters and gang mctnbct-s were, partly because wc know so littlc of the social makc up of collegia and vici.I18 The composition of Clodian gangs is an important issuc bccause if known securely, it would help to reveal a potcntially politicized portion of thc urban plebs, one that Catiline could have mobilized. Cicero i s again an unreliable sourcc. He consistently refers to Clodius supportcrs i n tcrms 01 gangs, banditry, mob and army.19 Morcover, he
I I I?

Coriwi. Pel. 30.

Wiseman, Senate and Populares (n. 14, above), provides an admirable account of the politics of the 60s BC.

I4 Asc. IT

45, 65C; Dio 36.42.2-3.

Lott, NeiShhourhootls (n. 86, above) 49. The measure was very controversial and was subsequcnfly annulled.


Lott, Neighbotirlruod.~ (n. S6, above) 50, n. 67; cf. A. Fraschetti, Rotite el le prince, trans. V. Jolivet (Paris 1994) 220.


Cic. Pis. 8; Asc. 7, 75C.

On Clodius use of collegiu and vici, c.g. A. W. Lintott, Violerice in Republiccui R<J/JIC (Carnbiidgc 1968) 7783; Treggiari, Rornnn freedmejz (n, 14, above) 168-77; J.-M. Flanibard, Clodius, les collbges, la plkbc ct Ics esclaves. Rcchcrches sur la politique populaire au milieu du Icr sikclc, MC/a~ge.r de /'/kale Fruri(xiise de Rome, AntiquitP 89 (1977) I 15-56; Vandcrbrtxck, /opii/tir leadership (n. 3 , above) I 13-IS; W. Nippel, Iu/>Iic order in trncient Rorrie (Caiiibridge 1995) 73; Tattiin, Pti/riciu,i /r;hiim?(n. 12, above) 143; Mouiitscn, />/eb.r m d politics (11. 6, above) 83-86; Lott, ~ e i ~ / z ~ ~ (11. ~ 86, ~ ~ above) f r / ~S6-S9. ~ ~ ~ K. J Liurcncc, ~ . ~ The urban U ~ C L I S : the spatial organisation of power in the Roman city, in Pupers of thefijur/h cotlference of Ittdian archaeology VO/. I : the rircliueolugy o/power. Purr I , cd. E. IHcrring, R. Whitehousc & J. Wilkins (London 1991) 145-51. argues that Clodius, by creating collegiu in every vicus, gained control over every member of the city of Rome. Such speculation is unwarranted, and the itlca that Clodius was able to maintain an organization of up fo I inillion people is implausible in the extreme.
I E,g, Cic. 38.40C.

2.3.4; Red. Seti. 18, 32; Dom. 14; Sex/. 18, 27, 38, 85, 94; V o / .40; Pix. 26; cf. Asc. 32, 33, 37,


1 I3

employs derogatory terms such as perditii, facinerosi or egentes to suggest that Clodius followers were poor, corrupt and criminal elements.20He also claims that Clodius was supported by slaves.12 Many scholars do not take the references to slaves seriously, and believe that Cicero here, as elsewhere, was referring disparagingly to Clodius freedmen supporters.12 Vanderbroeck has argued that Clodius supportcrs should be equatcd with the once popular notion of the plebs contionalis, a politicized section of the urban populace who frequently attended meetings. For him, the plebs contionalis were independent freedmen (often tabernarii) who were not fettered by the vertical ties with elite Romans with which the rest of the populace were bound. Could Catiline therefore appeal to the plebs contionalis? Vanderbroecks thesis is undoubtedly problematic. In his favour, if freedmen did dominate the membcrship of the collegia and vici, as has been claimed, then Clodiuss following must have contained significant numbers of them.Iz4 However, his argument that freedmen were independent of their former masters is unconvincing, especially for those in collegia, which appear to have generally had elite patrons.25More gcnerally, manumitted slaves often had to perform services for the former masters, and even those that did not might maintain relations. In fact, because many freedmen, as artisans or craftsmen, were relatively well off among the plebs, we should expect that they wcre more likely to possess patron-client ties with elite Romans, as they had something tangiblc to offer in a reciprocal relationship. The idea that the whole urban population was bound by clientela has long been abandoned in any case.126 Indeed, the idea of a plebs contionalis, which was popularized by Meier, cannot be maintained, and has recently been decisively refuted by Mo~ritsen.~ Clodius certainly appears, if the ancient sourccs are not wholly unreliable, to have maintained the continued support of tabernarii, many of whom would, indeed, have been freedmen. Cicero, for instance, alleged that he ordered the closing of


E.g. Cic. Mil. 36, 95; Durn. 45, 89,96; Red. Sen. 26; Sest. 23,76, 95; Vat. 21.40.

E.g. Cic. Acud. 2.144; Sest. 95; Red. Sen. 33; Durn. 5 , 54, 89; Mil.36, 37.76; Pis. I I , 23, 30; Ati. 4.3.4
I??Treggiari, R o m n freedmen (n. 14, above) 172-74. Mountsen, Plebs and politics (n. 6 , above) 60, suggests that slaves may have been among Clodius supporters. Neither hypothesis is subject to proof.

Vanderbroeck, Popular leadership (n. 3, above) 161-65. Lintott, Violence (n. 118, above) 76-77, believes that Clodius employed gladiators, but it was clearly Milo who used them. Ciceros charge (Durn. 6) docs not stand UP. However, despite Vanderbroecks acknowledgement of the importance of collegia and vici, his conclusions regarding lower-class mobilization seem to depend on who he believes lived and worked in or near the forum. Mouritsen, Plebs ond politics (n. 6 , above) 43-45, also believes that because the forum was cleaned up in the late Republic (hardly certain), lower-class political participation was unlikely. This argument is contradicted by his admission that mobilization of poorer Romans did occur. More generally, it ignores the argument, advanced here, that the key to mobilization became increasingly less about who was in or near the forum on any particular day. Despite the useful discussion by Gamsey, Independent Freedmen (n. 77, above). On collegia and patrons, see Tatum, Patrician tribune (n. 12, above) 118.

M. Gelzer, The Roman nobilify, trans. R. Seagcr (Oxford 1969) 139, for the most famous expression of the traditional view.
Mouritsen, Plebs and politic.? (n. 6, above) 39-43, discusses the concept, which has no ancient pedigree (p, 41). and dismisses it as not very useful (p. 43).

I I4

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labernae in ordcr to mobilizc his This makes sense when it is considered that, as artisans or craftsmen, they, rather than unemployed Romans or casual labourers, arc likely to have featured prominently in collegia and perhaps vici-based organizations, despite Taturns suggcstion that Clodius new organizations wcrc fillcd by members of the poorest If our evidence does not allow us to determine how far Clodius urban support was dominated by either freedmen or freeborn citizens, it is at least likely that the majority of his followers were from the respectable part of the poor, and not the corrupt paupers of Ciceronian This upper stratum of the urban working classcs was certainly not in the majority of the plebs, and Cicero also claimed that Clodius had to bribc individuals to join his gangs. Despite Ciceros obvious rhetorical strategy hcre, trying to deny Clodius legitimacy, Mouritsen has plausibly argued that Clodius would have offered rcmuneration to supporters, because political participation was time consuming, and would denied working people the opportunity to earn much-needed Thus, although Clodius was ccrtainly ablc to mobilizc the political support of the urban plebs to a greater extent than perhaps any Roman politician, it appears that his consistent following actually came from a rather limited, and relatively economically secure, section of the population, and that he was only able to mobilize this support by exploiting prc-existing organizational structures within the city.33Catiline and the other leaders of his insurrection do not appear prima facie to have managed to do thc same. Potentially useful collegia had been banncd a ycar prior to the conspiracy, preventing Catiline from mobilizing them for organizcd violence. Cicero claimed that a pimp (lenonem) of Lentulus tried to rally support for his now captured patron among the labernae, and Sallust, presumably reporting the same incident, states that the vici wcrc scoured for opifices and slave^."^ The context of the situation shows that this does not appear to have been a long-term plan of the conspirators, but rather a despcratcly improvised attempt to free Lent~11us.I~~ Even if an urban tumult was planned, there is little evidence that much support. was ever organized in the city. Through his popularis


Cic. Dorn. 54, 89

I Tatum, Purriciuii tributie (n, 12, abovc), 118. Many casual labourers are unlikely to have been ablc to afford permanent accommodation in one neighbourhood; their rents were probably paid on a daily basis (Frier, Lclnd/~~urid d . ~ tenutifs [n. 30, above] 51), and they may have been something of a floating population in the city. Holleran, Retuil trade (n. 74, above) 84, suggests that when Cicero refers to the supporters of Clodius as ruberrmi-ii,he may not be describing them as artisans etc., but using the word merely to indicate people he felt were base and common. Yet Cicero had (and used) other far more degrading terms for Clodius followers.

I3O See F. Favory, Classes dangereuses et crise de ICtat dans le discourse cickronien dapris les h i t s de CicCron de 57 i 52, in 7ex/e, politique, idiologie: Ciceron, Annales littiraires de 1UniversitC de Hesanpn, no. 187 (Besanpn 1978-79) 109.233, on Ciceros terminology.

Cic. Sest. 38, 106, 127; Donz. 45, 79, 89.

Mountsen, Plebs utzdpolitics (n. 6 , above) 60.

Even if Clodius has rightly been considered to have tapped into new dimensions of popular mobilization in the city (e.g. Nippel, Public order [n. I 18, above] 70), it is significant that his active following could not have included more than 3-4 per cent of the urban citizenry (Mouritsen, Plebs mid polirics [n. 6, above] 86). This consideration once again puts any discussion of the level of Catilines urban support into its proper perspective.

Cic. Cur. 4.17; Sall. Cut. 50. I


Corirru Lintott, Violetice (n. 1 18, above) 77



legislation and his use of lower-class organizations, Clodius transcended the situation Catiline lacked either the will or the ability to overcome. This apparently clear-cut conclusion is, however, complicated by the fact that Cicero often referred to Clodius as Catilines successor (he called him felix Catilina), and the formers followers as veteran soldiers of the latter, which suggests that Catiline did havc an urban following.36 Once more, however, it seems that Ciceros abuse has distorted the historical record, certainly regarding the relationship between the two men prior to the conspiracy. In 65 BC Clodius undertook a prosecution of Catiline for cxtortion in his praetorian province of Africa.37 The latter was acquitted, and Cicero, in the aftermath of his exile, was to claim that Clodius had actually colluded with the defence to secure this res~lt. However, ~ these charges were made at a time when Cicero was taking great pains to link Clodius to Catiline, and Asconius does not appear to have becn convinced that thc accusations were true.13 There is more than enough reason to doubt that Clodius colluded with Catiline at this point, and the episode should be viewed simply as a young politician failing in an attempt to achieve prominence through a high-profile p r o s e ~ u t i o n . ~ ~ Cicero also accused Clodius of supporting Catiline during the con~piracy.~ Catiline was ccrtainly believed to have attracted ambitious young nobles in the city. It was thus rumoured that Clodius considered travelling to Etruria to join Catiline. In his Life of Cicero, however, Plutarch claims that Clodius was anxious to help Cicero, leading Lintott even to suggest that he was among the bodyguard of equites and young nobles that the consul employed during the Tatum has also drawn attention to Clodius association with Catilines rival L. Licinius Murena, and his role in the latters electoral campaign in 63 B.C.143 He rightly points out that, having been firmly in the camp of Catilines opponents before the conspiracy, i t is unlikely he would have then joined what he must have realised was a doomed coup. Therefore we must reject Ciceros accusations as being driven by his contemporary concerns, as it is far from clear that Clodius was on friendly terms with Catiline. Nevertheless, it is still possible that Clodius assumed Catilines mantle among the plebs during the 50s BC, by utilizing a pre-existing network of supporters. This is the clear implication of Ciceros rhetoric. One of Clodius named associates, L. Sergius, described by Cicero as an armour-bearer of Catiline, probably was his freedman.144
Felix Cufilinu: Cic. Dom. 72. His followers as remnants of the Catilinarian movement: Cic. Red. Quir. 13; Pis. 11, 16, 23; Donz. 61; Planc. 35.

Cicero himself considered defending Catiline in the trial: A / / . 1.2.1. On Catilincs court cases see 53. A. Marshall, Catilina:court cases and consular candidature, SCf 3 (1976-77) 127-37.

Cic. Hur. Resp. 42; Pis.95. Lintott, Felix Cutilinu? (n. 105, above) 158, among others, accepts the veracity of Ciceros statement. Asc. 85, 87C. Comm. Pet. 10 states that it was bribery that secured Catilincs acquittal. Taturn, Pulriciun tribune (n. 12, above) 55.

Cic. Mil. 55; Asc. 50C.

Plut. Cic. 29.1; Lintott, Felix Cu/ilinu? (n. 105, above) 158-9. For Ciceros bodyguard: Cic. Aft. 2.19.4, 2.1.7; Red. Sen. 32; Phil. 2.16.

Tatum, Putriciun tribune (n. 12, above) 55-61. Cic. Dom. 13



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However, Ciceros labelling of Clodius supporters as veteran soldiers of Catiline or the remains of the conspiracy must again be considered against the orators rhetorical purposes during the SOs, and against our previous discussion of Catilincs levcl of urban support. Firstly, thcre is littlc evidence to suggest that Catilinc was ablc to mobilize a significant level of urban support, either in what might loosely be termed public opinion, or in the form of Clodian-type organization. Secondly, Ciccros portrayal of Catiline acted as ii tcmplatc lor his later vitriol against the likes o f Clodius and Antony. Thus, when Clodius activities bordered on the seditious during his tribunate and its aftermath, Ciccro could conveniently portray him as continuing Catilincs c a ~ s e . As ~ wc ~ have seen, one could argue that in actively and consistcntly attacking Ciccro for his execution of the conspirators, Clodius was thereby displaying his previous support for their cause, or tapping into previous popular support for the conspirators. Howcvcr, Clodius went on the attack against Ciccro on this issue partly for personal revengc over Ciceros role in the Rona Dea prosccution, but, more importantly, many Romans (including scnators) thought that Cicero had acted unlawfully, and Clodius could promote the cause of popular libertus against senatorial domination, which seemed to be embodicd by Cicero and his conduct 011 5 December 63 BC.46Clodius actions i n this regard cannot be used as cvidence for eithci- his prior connection with the Catilinarians or support for their causc, nor do they show that Catilines plans had widespread support. Thus, Ciccros linking of thc Clodian with the Catilinarian cause does not provide support for the view that the conspirator of 63 BC had a strong following among the plebs u r i ~ a / ~Clodius a. was uniquc for his popularity among, and mobilization of, the urban plebs. Even then, the extent of his support must be tempered by our eonsidcrations of the small scalc of Roman politics, in which, even in thc turbulent late Republic, most of the citys inhabitants were generally excluded from active participation. Catilinc does not appear to have addressed issues such as the grain supply in his consular catnpaign, which could have gaincd him popular support. Nor was he ablc to utilize organizational networks among the pEebs as Clodius was later to do, becausc suspicious collegia had bcen banned i n 64 BC. Finally, despitc Ciccros latcr invective, thcrc is litile 10 commend the idea that Clodius was connected to Catiline at the time of the conspiracy, or that he took up his causc using his previous supporters.

5 . Conclusion
The issue of Catilines urban following is relevant to the development of popular politics in the late Republic, paradoxically because his fuilure to win support highlights the possibilities and limitations of popular mobilization. The literary sources are weak regarding the conspirators supporters among the plebs. Ciceros claims of unanimous support in the city were highly coloured by his rhetorical purposes. Likcwise, Sallusts statcmcnt that thc whole plebs supported Catiline also fitted into his moral framework, and has been taken too literally by many scholars. Other authors such as Plutarch and Appian are scarcely more reliable. To address the entire issuc of popular politics, we must understand the

Tntum, Poatncirrri trihune (n. 12, above) 78, 142-5 On Ciceros subsequent exile scc G. P. Kelly, A history oJexile
iri the

Romm Repuhlic (Cambridge 2006)

I 10-24.225-37.



living conditions and social structure in Rome. In a city whose population was generally poor, and in a state of continual flux due to massive urban mortality, only a relatively limited section of the lower classes were politically active, which is not to say that there was a plebs contionalis which was consistently devoted to political participation. Clodius, unlike Catiline, was able to tap into the resources of this upper stratum of the plebs in the 50s BC, partly by popular measures such as instituting free grain distributions, and partly by organizing sections of it for political purposes through the vici and collegia, which he restored from a ban of 64 BC. Catiline was neither willing to promise measures which were of special interest to the urban populace, nor able to exploit pre-existing organizational structures to mobilize support. It is also notable that at the time of the conspiracy Catiline was legally disabled from calling contiones as he was not a magistrate, thus denying him direct oratorical access to (limited) sections of the plebs. Despite Ciceros invective, there is little to commend the view that Clodius merely took up the Catilinarian cause and inherited his support. If this is the best way to make sense of the evidence, then scholars do not have to follow Sallust by positing a sudden shift in the opinion of the urban masses away from Catiline after Ciceros revelations of the conspirators plan to burn down the entire city.47There were unquestionably serious issues of concern for a growing populace i n the city, which increasingly made themselves felt in the politics of the late Roman Republic. However, these issues were taken up properly by popularis politicians like Clodius, who understood the needs and desires of the city populace. If the democratic potential of the plebs urbana remained limited, Clodius was able to tap into it to an extent that had not been seen before, providing a strong challenge to the senates moral authority at a time when it was being ratally weakened by the powerful warlords of the mid-first century BC. One of their number would ensure that this democratic potential was not realised any further.

Epilogue: Augustus and the urban plebs

As in many other respects, the first princeps was able to learn the relevant lessons from the problems that had beset the late Republic, thus enabling him to legitimize and strengthen his rule. The greatest impetus for the Republics collapse was provided by the emergence of revolutionary armies under ambitious figures such as Sulla, Pompey, Caesar, Antony, and Octavian hirn~elf.~ The Augustan army reforms, introducing standard terms of service and bonuses on discharge as an obligation of the state, were intended to prevent the kind of circumstances from which he accrued his own power.149 Atthough the violence of political life at Rome did not bring down the Republic, Augustus recognized the danger, to the stability of his regime, inherent in the potential for popular mobilization that had only begun to be realized by Clodius. The activities of M. Egnatius Rufus in the city (c. 22-19 BC) must have also highlighted the need for Augustus to exert
14 For Ciceros rhetorical strategy here see Johnstone, On the uses of arson (n. 62, above) 44-7. This is not to deny that diversionary blazes were planned by the conspirators. 14 See Brunt, The f u l r (n. I , above) 240-80, for his still essential The army and the land in the Roman Revolution.
14 The events of A D 68-69, though hardly analogous, do show that the loyalty of the army was never guaranteed.


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similar control on the urban plebs as hc did thc army. Scvcral of his tneasurcs can bc secn in this context. Following thc prccedent of Pompcy, Augustus assumed the c u m annonae, and created permanent officcrs to ovcrsce grain distributions to the populace. Similar posts relating to aqueducts, and the significant employment opportunities crcatcd by his ongoing and vast building projects, strengthened the imprcssion that Augustus was tlic benefactor and patron of the plebs.0 Equally important werc mcasures regarding thc organization and oversight of the city. Augustus divided Romc into lourtccn regiones, and regularized and rcnovated the vici (tellingly cvcn the pqiu1ari.s Cacsar had banned collegia once more). Each neighbourhood received statucttes of Larcs (now I-enanicd Augusti) as gifts, symbolizing the fact that their rcvival was due 10 thc princeps. It has also long been thought that the vici became important locations for the worship of Augustus g e n i ~ s . By ~ these, and other, means, the loyalty of the vici, and thus thcir potential for mobilization, was channcllcd directly towards the ccntral dynastic power. Thc establishment of the vigiles attempted, somewhat unsucccssfully, to limit tlic daniagc that could be done by the frequent fires in thc city. Along with tlic urban cohorts, who had a quasi-police function, the vigiles dcinonstratcd that the mobilization of forcc i n the city was the preservc of the state alone.1s3To this cxtcnt, A L I ~ U Swas ~ U able S to iinprovc the material welfare of the urban plebs, while at the same time largely to deprive thcm of thc opportunity for the politically important collcctivc action they sporadically cti-joyed during the late Republic.
UrI i ver*.sityo j Man clzeste r


On these see, c.g., 11. Favro. The iirhuiz imnge ofAi~gustcin Rorw (New York, N Y 1996).
Suet. Cues. 42.3.

? On Augustus and the vici, see Lort, Neighboirrliouds (n, 86, above) 81-175. He disputes the traditional view that Augustus insritutionalizcd the worship of his genius in the vici (106.17).

On ancient policing see Nippel, Public order (n. I 18, above).